The Eight-Month Road

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Alana Gomez

Communications junior Alana Gomez at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Alana Gomez, Sports Editor

For nine years, I have played flag football. During those nine years, I have broken my foot, cut my head open and have had casts on both legs twice. None of these injuries, however, were the result of my playing flag football. It was almost as if I was safer on the field than in the real world. That all changed on April 25, when I tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and meniscus in my knee during a playoff game. This marked the start of my journey, my eight-month road to getting back in the game.

It turns out it does not take much to tear an ACL. Women injure their knees four to six times more than men according to a study done by the University of Denver. The most common cause of a torn ACL is when a person stops suddenly while running and changes direction. This exact move is what landed me in rehab for eight months of physical therapy before I could return to football. I have been attending my rehab sessions for about six weeks. Thirty-two weeks remain.

The only good outcome from my injury is that it happened to me as a teenager. Children and young adults heal faster than adults or the elderly, making my healing process a little faster. I attend physical therapy at CORA Health Services three times a week for an hour as well as self-therapy on the days in between. For now, physical therapy has been limited to weights and stretches. I have been assured however, that the more time I spend in physical therapy, the harder it will get. Even with six weeks of physical therapy already complete, my knee is still not strong enough for me to begin throwing a football again.

Before I started my eight-month road of rehab however, I had to get surgery. On the morning of May 12, my mother drove me to Plantation General Hospital for an ACL reconstruction operation. The operation took about an hour and a half. It cleaned out my knee and replaced my ACL with a cadaver ligament. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous before heading into the operation room, but the surgery was a smooth process and the only problem I had was the effects of the anesthesia, which made me vomit every hour.

I’ve come a long way since that Saturday morning when I first heard the pop that marked the tearing of my ACL. My emotions have ranged from fear, to anger, to self-pity and finally to acceptance. I have learned to cope with my injury and I am working harder than ever at bringing my knee back to 100 percent. Through this experience, I have learned to deal with life when it throws me a bad pass. No matter how long it takes, I know that I will be back in the game soon, maybe even stronger than before.